It was the end of an extremely long footy drought.
When the siren sounded on the Round 6 game of 1990, St Kilda’s victory unleashed an enormous roar form the packed Moorabbin crowd.
And why not?
St Kilda hadn’t beaten the Hawks in 20 attempts since the opening round of 1979. In that time Hawthorn had made seven Grand Finals and St Kilda had collected five wooden spoons. After the siren Danny Frawley and Tony Lockett ran from their respective positions at the opposite ends of the ground to embrace and celebrate.
It had been a remarkable game, full of superb individual clashes that were worth watching on their own. Champion full-forwards Tony Lockett and Jason Dunstall were curtailed, but not completely shut down, by Chris Langford and Frawley. Lockett had the better day with five goals and would have kicked another if not for a controversial decision when the umpire deemed he had nudged Langford out of a marking contest. And Dunstall booted three on the resolute Frawley , but missed a couple he normally would have snared.
Hawthorn had the edge in skills early, but with Dunstall well covered, could not capitalise. It was a classic 'nip and tuck' struggle. Hawthorn led by three goals in the second quarter and the Saints by three points at half-time, but the real story was a seesawing second half when first one side, then the other, grabbed the advantage.
Scores were level at the final change of ends and St.Kilda was leading by a kick deep into time-on in the final quarter when Hawthorn's Russell Morris ran into an open goal twice in as many minutes and, somehow, contrived to miss both chances. Then Ray Jencke was off-line with a hurried snap inside the last minute. One of the key man to man duels was that of St Kilda tagger Kain Taylor on Brownlow medallist John Platten.
At times it looked like the Hawks were the tired old champ copping a battering on the ropes from a young and tough opponent.
Former Hawk ruckman Paul Harding played a mighty game for the Saints, scoring three Brownlow votes. He rucked all day, fighting hard against the Dear brothers and positioning himself to take crucial marks to thwart Hawthorn attacks.
These days Paul is back in his home state of WA, and he says that he didn’t have any intent to show Hawthorn they had been wrong in letting him go after two seasons.
“It was more about making a point to myself, that I could still play good consistent footy. Hawthorn was very strong at the time and I just had niggling long term injuries while I was there. You lose a bit of confidence. (For St Kilda) it was good to play well against Hawthorn, but not something I set myself to do”.
Harding had three good years with the Saints, and wanted to stay longer, but after complications in contract negotiations he returned to Perth where his footy story had a happy ending as part of the West Coast 1994 premiership team.
A sidelight to that 1990 is that two of the Hawthorn players later came to the Saints and play important roles still. Dean Anderson is a member of our board and Russell Morris is President of the Saints Past Players and Officials Association.
ST KILDA 4.2 9.6 13.8 15.14 (104)
HAWTHORN 5.3 8.9 12.14 14.17 (101)
BACKS: Kain Taylor, Danny Frawley, David Grant
HALF-BACKS; Tim Pekin, Ian Muller, Grant Lawrie
CENTRES: Nathan Burke, Russell Jeffrey, Dean Rice
HALF-FORWARDS: Ricky Nixon, Stewart Loewe, Nicky Winmar
FORWARDS: Robert Harvey, Tony Lockett, Damien Kitschke
RUCKS: Paul Harding, Peter Russo
ROVER: Jim Krakouer
I/C: Frank Coghlan, Craig Devonport
Harding, Harvey, Loewe, Winmar, Pekin, Taylor, Frawley, Devonport
Lockett 5, Loewe 3, Nixon 2, Krakouer, Winmar, Lawrie, Harvey, Devonport